Cliff erosion

Sir - Eve Mathews, in her letter published in the Sidmouth Herald dated November 25, makes a number of errors in her analysis regarding the erosion of Sidmouth’s eastern cliffs.

Firstly, she states that erosion only takes place from the top. If this were so then the cliffs would slope backward, in the same way as the other cliffs around Sidmouth, all of which slope back at the top at about 60 degrees and have reached some measure of stability – one only has to stand on the Esplanade to see this. However the eastern cliffs alone are vertical which could only happen if they are being eroded from both the top and the bottom.

Secondly, the river defences she cites as adequate will become sea defences once Pennington Point has eroded much further and be open to storms from the east, and the river Sid will require defences such as those fronting the Esplanade to protect Sidmouth from flooding. Finally, as pointed out by John Labrum in his letter in the same issue, the rate of erosion has increased substantially in the past 15 years. The Authorities have yet to acknowledge this and in the Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) issued by EDDC in May this year, their prediction for where the cliff will be in 2030 has already been reached in some places. However, the SMP does acknowledge that there is an increase in the rate of erosion and that this has been caused by the rock islands built in 1995.

Because of this, our houses, which we expected to be safe for 400 years when we bought them, might now have to be abandoned in less than 20 years, and Sidmouth could be open to flooding from the east within 2 years, with Alma Bridge being abandoned at the same time.

Paul Griew

Cliff Road Action Group Sidmouth